I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Ace takes on the day-to-day process on a twice-weekly basis, but in case you haven't been paying super-close attention here's a primer on where Michigan stands as of today, and probably will continue standing until early January when some targets are likely to announce at All-Star games.
We'll start with the RR-Hoke hybrid 2011 class and focus on 1) how well Hoke's done, 2) what Michigan needs to fill out this class, and 3) what they'll be looking for next year.
|Russell Bellomy||3*||nobody||N/A||Shane Morris||5*|
PERFORMANCE: Bellomy was a late flier taken by Hoke after the Process left him scant time to find a bunch of dudes. We've seen that early results from this class of random last minute additions have been erratic. A couple are gone, a few more are contributors, others are still waiting in the wings. Judging recruiting prowess based on a rushed land grab made while still trying to find your footing is not a good idea.
This is kind of a long way of saying that Bellomy did not play well against Nebraska, and moreover seemed like a guy who just didn't have the arm strength to play at the top level, but that the decision to recruit him was not representative of much.
Meanwhile, Shane Morris is one of the top-ranked QBs in this class. He committed so early that it was clear Michigan would have had to do something spectacularly wrong to not end up with him. Still, points for not doing that, and for convincing Morris to hop aboard early enough to help sweep up most of a top five class by March.
OTOH, not taking a QB in this year's freshman class was a mistake, and while Morris is good his lack of high school production is somewhat concerning. (Yes, he had mono. Even considering that his junior/senior production is a little concerning.)
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Taken care of.
NEXT YEAR: With the hole in 2012 and Hoke's obscure mutterings about Bellomy having a "thing" that is not an injury but may prevent him from playing, possibly long-term, grabbing a guy is a top priority. Morris may scare guys off but it's at lot less intimidating when the hotshot freshman is just another backup.
Michigan has targeted a wide array of QBs; they have not offered any just yet. VA QB Caleb Henderson and OH QB DeShone Kizer are names to watch; instate, DCD QB Tyler Wiegers is someone garnering early buzz. Things are far less certain than last year, when Morris and Michigan had a mutual thing going on.
|Thomas Rawls||3*||Drake Johnson||2.5*||DeVeon Smith||4*|
|Justice Hayes||4*||Dennis Norfleet||4*|
PERFORMANCE: Hayes and Rawls were both late additions in the transition class, with Rawls coming aboard on Signing Day once he'd gotten some academic things taken care of. Hayes originally committed to ND, and then decommitted—the way in which it went down kind of seems like ND was the one pulling back. Neither has done much so far. In Hayes's case that's due to a lack of opportunity. In Rawls's it is not.
Last year Michigan all but struck out. Johnson played across the street from Michigan Stadium, putting up big numbers in an offense that was basically "snap the ball to Drake" and getting no offers except Eastern Michigan until M stepped in. Norfleet was committed to Cincinnati until a signing day flip that happened largely because Michigan had an extra scholarship. He's returned kicks and taken a few end-arounds so far. He was recently flipped to cornerback despite being 5'7", which says bad things about JT Floyd's availability, the options behind Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor, and possibly his ability to run the ball. It would have been nice to see him get some run before they made that move, as you never really know until you put the guy on the field.
This year Michigan finally has a guy that fit what they want to do and can play. Skepticism from Rivals about DeVeon Smith is not shared by the other services, or fellow suitor Ohio State. He's a stocky stiff-arm specialist who's hard to knock over, suited to grind it out between the tackles and so forth and so on. As a single option maybe he's not ideal, but…
NEEDS THIS YEAR: If Michigan does get VA RB Derrick Green, many of these concerns evaporate. Green is a near-consensus five star who fits what Michigan would like to do as they move away from the spread—think Alabama.
Arm tackles nyet. With Smith that's a fine 1-2 punch.
Grade with Green: B+; without D. Big swing is possible at a position like RB where guys can come in day one and contribute.
NEXT YEAR: With Johnson coming off a redshirt Michigan will have three freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior. They'll probably take a guy; they can take it easy.
Jehu Chesson (left), Jaron Dukes (right) and Devin Gardner are going to get along just fine
|nobody||n/a||Amarah Darboh||4*||Jaron Dukes||3.5*|
|Jehu Chesson||3*||Da'Mario Jones||3*|
PERFORMANCE: Rodriguez had a couple guys on the hook by the time he got the boot, and the decision to pass on Devin Lucien still grates. Lucien went to UCLA, redshirted, then had 10 catches in the first five games of the season and blew up Gus Johnson…
…before breaking his collarbone. Before that he was on pace for a 451 yard season over 12 games, which would have been second on this Michigan team.
There were no apparent grade or character issues with the guy, and Michigan opened the next year short scholarships. With no other WRs in the class, the only explanation for not taking him is badly mis-evaluating his talent relative to the other guys on the roster. The Process didn't help that. but if that decision ended up moving Devin Gardner to WR…
Let's not go down that road any further.
The next two years have been… eh. I actually like the 2012 class more than the recruiting rankings do, as Chesson got sleeper of the year status after his track season belied concerns about his speed and the vibe around the internet quotes was sufficiently awesome to make me think once he puts on the right amount of weight he'll be a player. Amarah Darboh comes with a solid four-star rep; those guys should both be players.
They'll have to be since the incoming class consists of three projects, and there was no 2011 class. Jones is the only speed guy, and Michigan yoinked him from CMU. Jaron Dukes could be a Junior Hemingway type eventually; York is more of a possession banger.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: LaQuon Treadwell is rapidly receding as a possibility, leaving Michigan with just the three sleeper types they've already acquired. If they could add a blue-chip, they would.
NEXT YEAR: Numbers look fine, but they'll probably need to take a couple more guys because most of the bullets they've got are of the iffy variety.
|Chris Barnett||4*||Devin Funchess||3.5*||Jake Butt||4*|
|AJ Williams||3.5*||Khalid Hill||2.5*|
PERFORMANCE: The pass-catching situation looks a lot better when these guys are figured in. Barnett was a Process-induced mistake who flamed out before fall practice; the other four guys look pretty good.
Funchess led Michigan in touchdown catches with five and should see his touches blow up in year two as Michigan gets more comfortable throwing over the middle of the field with the 6'5" Devin Gardner at QB. He'll have to put on weight to be less of a liability blocking. Williams would have redshirted in an ideal situation, as he desperately needed some time to figure out technique; he's going to be fine in time.
Butt is a guy to get excited about, a version of Funchess coming in 20-30 pounds heavier. Michigan figures to play all of the tight ends in the world in the future so a redshirt may not be in the cards for him. Hill is a low-ranked H-back type who will hopefully be a ++ version of a fullback.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Covered.
NEXT YEAR: I don't think Michigan will go a recruiting class without a tight end as long as Hoke is around. With Hill and Houma on the team they can probably forgo the H-back sort and just scour for the sort of matchup nightmares Butt and Funchess promise to be. No names yet.
|Tony Posada||3*||Kyle Kalis||5*||Patrick Kugler||4.5*|
|Chris Bryant||4*||Erik Magnuson||4.5*||Chris Fox||4.5*|
|Jack Miller||3*||Ben Braden||3*||Kyle Bosch||4.5*|
|Blake Bars||3.5||David Dawson||4*|
PERFORMANCE: All three guys in 2011 were essentially Rodriguez guys; while Bryant committed after the coaching change, he had strung out a near-commitment to Michigan for months. Michigan lost MI OL Jake Fisher to Oregon and could not grab anyone late, but Process == pass.
The next two years Hoke did work, nabbing Kyle Kalis from Ohio State and Erik Magnuson from the West Coast. Enormous Ben Braden was an MGoBlog sleeper of the year and has been the subject of considerable practice hype; though that's always dodgy he seems poised to blow through his recruiting rankings. Some late whiffs on kids who went to Auburn and Iowa—how do you feel about this a year later, dudes?—were a temporary downer. Emphasis on temporary: by May Hoke had locked down five touted guys comprising an entire offensive line. (From left to right: Tuley-Tillman, Dawson, Kugler, Bosch, Fox.) Together they're the top line class in the country. Over two years enough guys will emerge from the nine to give Michigan a good to great OL.
A+. You can't guarantee success with folks as variable as OL; Michigan's done all they can to try.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: It seems like Michigan figured out they were going to have more spots in this class than they originally thought they would about a month ago, and since then they've been going after not only a guy to replace the decommitted Dawson (who turned out to be Dawson) but a sixth. Michigan seems to be looking at huge tackle types for the most part. Tennessee soft commit Dan Skipper and Nebraska soft commit Dan Samuelson came in last week and are the hot names.
NEXT YEAR: Michigan already has 6'10" man-mountain Denzel Ward committed. He's raw as hell, which shouldn't be a problem since I mean look at the table. He'll have time to develop, and he's already got an Ohio State offer, so the kid is a talent. A wild card, but a talent.
Past Ward, Michigan can settle down into a more normal OL recruiting structure after repairing Rodriguez's damage—3 or 4 total. They've got serious interest from FL OL Mason Cole and MI OL Tommy Doles; if they lock those two down it might actually be time to cool it.
Picking up where we left off on Wednesday.
|DT (7 - 2)||
|W. Campbell||M. Martin||R. Sagesse
Departures: reliable backups Renaldo Sagesse and Greg Banks shuffle off.
Numbers: Presuming the Ryan Van Bergen move is real and permanent, Michigan will have just four defensive tackles on the roster in 2011, and three of those seem ticketed for the three-tech spot.
2011 Needs: Nose tackle is the second-most critical position in the class behind offensive line. Michigan needs two nose tackles and could use another three-tech, or a tweener that could play either spot.
Most likely additions: OH DT Kevin Williams has a different story about who he grew up a fan of for every site but Michigan's gotten him on campus a couple times already and will be on his short list.
Brennen Beyer(7), a teammate, and a guy who is about to limp gingerly to the sideline
|DE (9 - 1)||A. LaLota*
Departures: Adam Patterson leaves after the year. There aren't any NFL threats.
Numbers: If we don't count Heininger, Michigan will have eight defensive ends going into next year, with one or two still maintaining freshman eligibility.
2011 Needs: They'll probably pick up one or two but grabbing Jibreel Black towards the end of the recruiting cycle means they could potentially do without and be just fine.
Most likely additions: Instate DE/TE Brennen Beyer has a Michigan offer and is very high on the Wolverines. He's going to check out a few other schools but the general vibe is that he should be a Michigan commit by the middle of summer. He seems like a solid four star, a potential top 250 guy.
|LB (11 - 2)||
Numbers: Just fine at spinner, where Mike Jones, Brandin Hawthorne, and Josh Furman are all in their first or second years with the program. On the inside, Michigan has Bell, Ryan, Kinard, and Rogers as kids but only JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens in the upper classes.
2011 Needs: A blue chip linebacker would be very welcome. The last inside linebacker with any hype is Fitzgerald, who will be a senior by the time this class steps on campus. They'll probably take only two in a small class but they should swing for the fences as they do so.
Most likely additions: NC LB Kris Frost (attempting to rip some kid's head off at right) has an offer and has publicly stated a Michigan lead multiple times. He's from Butler HS, the school that produced Jamar Adams, and seems like a solid four star sort, or better. Michigan is also after a couple of touted Ohioans, Trey DePriest and Antonio Poole, but those guys are a ways from having solid lists.
|CB (8 + 0)||
|JT Floyd*||T. Woolfolk
Departures: Starter Troy Woolfolk graduates and little-used James Rogers will presumably follow him out the door. Rogers could hypothetically pick up a redshirt, but with a small class on the docket the chances Michigan extends a fifth year to a guy who doesn't play are minimal.
Commits: Michigan has a couple guys already signed up. It's unclear where Cass Tech's Delonte Hollowell and Fremont Ross's Greg Brown will end up in the rankings just yet, but the shaky consensus is they will be on the 3/4 star borderline.
Numbers: Michigan has eight guys who will have at least two years of eligibility remaining when the 2011 class hits. Michigan may end up shifting one of their bigger (Turner or Christian) or slower (Floyd) corners to safety, though. One more is a possibility.
2011 Needs: Blue chip or bust at this point.
Most likely additions: No one at the moment.
|S (6 + 0)||
Departures: None unless Woolfolk ends up here.
Numbers: Four (Kovacs, Robinson, Gordon, Johnson) at box safety, all of them underclassmen. Mike Williams might also have a permanent home in the box. If he doesn't, three at deep safety plus the potential move of a cornerback.
2011 Needs: Michigan can take a pass at box safety. They might want a deep safety since their three guys are low rated, played very poorly, or couldn't see the field despite the guy in front of him playing very poorly, but my bet is one of the three touted corners ends up here in fall, possibly even in spring.
Most likely additions: no one seems particularly likely at the moment. OH S Ron Tanner briefly said Michigan led but that changed once he got an Ohio State offer. (He's from Columbus.)
|P/K (3 - 1)||B. Gibbons*
Both specialists will be freshmen. Michigan will not be in the market for more.
Add It Up
One man's guess at the final numbers:
- DT: 2
- DE: 1
- LB: 2
- CB: 2
- S: 0
- K: 0
That's seven. Michigan has 14 openings right now and a normal amount of attrition should see them have 18 or so by signing day. If there's more than that—no thank you—I'd think they pick up another safety and another linebacker.
I'll be embarking on a project similar to last year's recruit profiles in the near future, but that effort will last into the summer—the final profile last year (Tate Forcier) didn't go up until June 25th—and some words about how Michigan did will be far less timely then.
First, highlights of all but three incoming Wolverines:
And an updated chart from StinkyP1nky with Michigan's rank relative to everyone else:
As always, a caution that recruiting services tend to favor large classes* and Michigan has just signed its biggest ever; these may be slightly optimistic. Also, the final locations of Latwan Anderson (here assumed to be WVU) and Seantrel Henderson (USC) could shift things a bit.
Caveats aside, Michigan is a consensus 12th after the year they just had. Take it and run.
With these items, we have set the table. Preposterously hasty letter grades ahoy.
*(Potentially unnecessary digression: all things being equal, they probably should favor large classes. If Team A has 25 kids who are on average equal to Team B's 20 kids, Team A has a better class. It's an article of faith around here, however, that recruiting sites don't do enough division when putting together their team rankings.)
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
Devin Gardner and Conelius Jones. Gardner you may have heard about. MGoBlog sent its MGoCreeperVan out several times this year to follow Gardner's progression throughout the season and documented his throwing motion's regression in impressive HD. That caused a dip in ratings late; despite that Gardner ended up somewhere between the #1 and #3 dual-threat quarterback nationally. Michigan targeted him above all others and landed him despite offers and interest from many sources; he was the best-case scenario.
Jones was a weird, super early offer for a guy who hadn't even played varsity football at the time of his offer but he did manage three stars to both sites and is a developmental prospect who won't mind redshirting and waiting. He'll bring stability to a backup spot at first and possibly move to wide receiver or defensive back down the road, either of which he is fine with.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
A. Gardner was a critical recruit for Rich Rodriguez. Michigan could not have done better.
Impact This Year?
The Great Devin Gardner Redshirt Debate will rage on until the fateful decision is made clear. This guy is on the pro-redshirt side and will slay the infidels who dare oppose his viewpoint. Coner 3000 is a redshirt lock.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
True freshmen Austin White and Stephen Hopkins have enrolled early and will get their shots as well. White is a slot/tailback who might be reminiscent of a Dorrell Jalloh or Darius Reynaud; he comes with less hype than Toussaint and I assume he will redshirt. Hopkins is the lowest-rated back of anyone on the roster but at 6-foot and 230-240 pounds there is a distinctly vacant role on the roster he might be the man to fill. Michigan needs a short-yardage moose.
White's excellent out of the backfield and has the flexibility to move from slot to tailback, something that was a frequent feature of West Virginia's offense but is yet to be seen at Michigan. That's where he'll find a role… eventually. Hopkins is just a horse, highly unlikely to be a star but a guy who will fill a role on the Michigan offense.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
C+. Both of these guys have a shot to be starters but it's unlikely either ends up a star. Michigan swung and missed on a host of blue-chip backs this year and ended up with good, not great prospects. White's versatility and Hopkins's clear utility are worth a plus.
Impact This Year?
Hopkins is a big bruiser the likes of which is now almost wholly absent from the Michigan roster. He's 50-50 to be Michigan's short yardage back, with Mike Cox the other reasonable option. White's versatility would help him get on the field… if slot receiver and tailback didn't have three players each obviously in front of him. He'll probably get a redshirt.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
- Dileo is a little pale kid from a Catholic school in Louisiana who is basically Wes Welker unless he moves to defensive back, in which case he'll be basically Jason Sehorn. He was a jack of all trades in high school and will
- Williamson is a total flier who won the Ohio state championship in the 100 meters as a junior and suffered through an assortment of minor injuries as a senior.
- Jackson is Fred Jackson's kid, a lanky receiver with a good frame and poor speed who seems extremely likely to be a reliable, if uninspiring, possession option.
- Robinson had a disappointing senior year due to injury but tore up Michigan's camp, apparently, and hovers on the 3/4 star borderline.
- Miller was supposed to be a hot ninja after his junior year at Dr. Phillips in Orlando but fell off the map after a bad camp and his move to Michigan. He's built like Jason Avant but doesn't have his ridiculous hands yet; he may be faster.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
C+. Again, most of these recruits have obvious limitations or are fliers, with Ricardo Miller the possible exception. The rest of the players could be good, functional Big Ten players but unless Williamson is a crazy sleeper the only one who could be a star is Miller.
Impact This Year?
Williamson is a holy lock to redshirt, but each of the others could find themselves on the field. If Dileo ends up playing it's because he's the starting punt returner, in which case the gamble on him will have worked out as long as he HOLDS ON TO THE GODDAMN BALL. If he's not returning punts, he's waiting for Roundtree and Odoms to clear out.
Miller, Jackson, and Robinson will battle to be the fourth and fifth wide receivers. (Given Rodriguez's statements on signing day, the assumption here is that Cam Gordon moves to linebacker, where bodies are badly needed.) Past the starters there is only sophomore Je'Ron Stokes, so a couple of the freshmen are going to get on the field. All are enrolled early.
N/A. Michigan did not sign any. They went after Alex Smith from Cincinnati but that was all.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
Gentleman, actually, as there's just one: center Christian Pace. Pace is the player I think is most likely to outperform his recruiting rankings, a heady center from Avon Lake in Ohio who's somewhat undersized but very agile. Florida State, current home of former Rodriguez offensive line coach Rick Trickett, was after him hard as well.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
D+. Let this not reflect on Pace, who I believe is the Molk apparent unless he's just too small. Since he's got two and a half years to become not too small that's probably not going to be a problem. But just one offensive lineman is a major issue, especially when the class before it was just three guys. If there are additional transfers or guys who wash out due to injury, things could be scarily thin on the OL.
Impact This Year?
None. Pace obviously redshirts.
All Things Collected And Told
Acquiring Garner overshadows everything else. Michigan needed quarterback depth in a huge way and managed to pick up an OMG SHIRTLESS prospect despite starting a true freshman. That's a major win. On the other hand, offensive line has to be a major priority next year because of the one-man class and there's a paucity of guys who look like true gamebreakers at the skill spots unless Miller was done a major disservice by the gurus after his move.
A grade for this side of the ball? B-.
The week-to-week minutiae of recruiting can sometimes obscure the larger picture.From time to time this here blog likes to provide a 1,000 foot view so people can have context going forward. Details below are designed to be sparse. The offense was treated to a similar overview a couple weeks ago.
Also sorry it's late but I think you'll see why. The recruiting board, as always, lives here.
They remain the same: Michigan has 20 scholarships to give out next year under these assumptions:
- No attrition
- Cone and Wright aren't extended fifth years
- Kelvin Grady, George Morales, and Nick Sheridan aren't on scholarship next year
2 is a solid assumption; 1 is probably goofy, and 3 is solid on Sheridan and unknown on Grady and Morales.
Needs: Well… dude, I just don't know yet. Michigan's move to the 4-3 under (mostly) leaves everyone's positions a mess. There are approximately three different sorts of things you can do on the defensive line:
- Be the nose tackle. Play shaded over the center, take on a lot of double teams with an idea towards splitting them, and disrupt the strongside A gap like whoah. Sophomore Mike Martin is your starter backed up by Renaldo Sagesse and Will Campbell. Martin and Campbell are both underclassmen so they'd like to get some numbers here but they only need one as they have no seniors.
- Be the deathbacker. Be a hybrid DE/OLB that can be considerably lighter than a conventional defensive end. You sit outside the weakside tackle and threaten to death him to death (ie: murder the quarterback). Michigan's current options here are not great: converted TE Steve Watson plus converted. LBs Brandon Herron and Marrell Evans, plus probably freshmen Craig Roh and Anthony Lalota.
- Be the strongside defensive end or three-technique DT. These are the guys who flank the nose tackle and their duties appear pretty similar; multiple recruits have mentioned that playing SDE and DT in this defense is pretty much the same, and you can see that in the projected starting lineups: Brandon Graham's backup, Ryan Van Bergen, is now the starting three-tech DT. The DE has to be more of a pass-rush threat, I guess, but these guys are going to be big guys ranging from 260 to 290. Graham, Van Bergen, Patterson, and Banks are your two-deep here: all guys who will be gone in two years except for Van Bergen.
This has turned into a dissertation on defensive line responsibilities in the new defense. Anyway: Michigan wants one nose and probably at least two SDE/DT prospects, and already has two deathbackers.
Commitments: Michigan has deathbacker commits from PA DE Jordan Paskorz (right) and PA DE Ken Wilkins. Both are three-star sorts with okay-not-great offers that Michigan hopes are reflective of their tweener status. That's an issue defenses that require different things from their defensive ends, but under Greg Robinson it's all good as long as you're an athlete like whoah.
One thing on Wilkins: despite that combine that claimed him at 225, many, many sources since then have him at 6'4", 240; other reports also question his agility. 240 + 6'4" + lack of agility + two years with Barwis + "good frame" == 270-280 == SDE. "But if Michigan saw him as an SDE wouldn't they have taken Holmes Onwukaife?" you ask, and I reply "don't be a pest."
Realistic Future Options: This is where it gets dodgy. Michigan's apparently taken a pass on MI DT Jonathan Hankins, at least for now, leaving very few NT candidates on the board. There's Sharrif Floyd, who everyone wants and Michigan should get a visit from, Samoan Mormon Ricky Heimuli, and OH DT Terry Talbott. The vibe I get on Floyd is that Michigan isn't in great spot; M is just a letter to Heimuli; and Talbott is just a name right now, and one of those meh three-stars at that.
At SDE/DT, the only green on the board belongs to Marcus Rush, who continues to maintain that Michigan leads but also seems locked into deathbacking and might not have a committable offer in the wake of Paskorz and Wilkins, and Derrick Bryant, who said Michigan led a long time ago and then hasn't been heard from since except when a rumor mentions there's been some parting of the ways.
Past that there are a lot of southern guys who have expressed little interest in their Michigan offers, instate DE CJ Olaniyan, and NY DE Dominique Easley. FL DE Corey Lemonier and GA DE Henry Anderson have (erratically) expressed desires to visit too, but of the people on the board right now I think you'll see one guy actually commit and then you're looking at Defensive End Taylor Lewan, hopefully.
Level of PANIC: 4/5. Michigan really should fill three more spots on the defensive line in this class but it's hard to see where they come from. This only compounds the hole left by the signing-day defections of Pearlie Graves and Dequinta Jones. It looks like more of the same the rest of the way out.
Needs: The only senior is WLB Stevie Brown. Mike Jones, Isaiah Bell, and Brandin Hawthorne all come in as safety-sized outside linebackers, so Michigan needs one guy in the middle and maybe a one or two on the outside.
Commitments: Youngstown Liberty offered up its third player in two years when Antonio Kinard committed at junior day. At the time I thought Kinard was likely headed for deathbacker, too, but now it seems he'll come in as a middle linebacker.
And then there's Marvin Robinson, who may or may not be a safety. Recruiting analysts say he's a weakside linebacker; Robinson, and apparently the Michigan coaches, have him a strong safety. He's addressed in the secondary for now; be advised that if Michigan pulls in like three corners and two non-Robinson safeties I'm moving him to linebacker whether he wants to go there or not.
Realistic Future Options: Uh. MD LB Josh Furman has some ridiculous combine numbers, offers from Oklahoma and others, and plans a visit in the near future. He also looks indie like Dhani Jones, which can't hurt.
MD LB Troy Gloster has Michigan in his top five of strong academic schools. TX LB Corey Nelson is the teammate of RB/slot commit Tony Drake; Michigan is outside his top five but should, apparently, get a visit. For now. There's also Onwukaife if he decides he does want to play linebacker.
Only Nelson is a blue-chip there, though Furman certainly has promise. Michigan missed out on a couple of in-state guys (Daniel Easterly and Austin Gray) by not offering; if they get involved with either they may get a look.
Level of PANIC: 3/5. There's not a huge need at this spot but you'd like to see two guys, and here we're again banking on the Michigan coaching staff having information no one else does about low-rated, unoffered Kinard.
Needs: No one graduates, but the two-deep had a walk-on on it this spring and only two guys come in to reinforce. Also, Donovan Warren might be an early-entry candidate if he suddenly lives up to his recruiting hype. I consistently overestimate the corner need, but now it's tradition: I'd like to see them take three.
Commitments: OH CB Courtney Avery flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan after picking up an M offer at summer camp. Avery's not highly rated but Michigan got an extended look and decided to shoot him an offer; in that situation you can reasonably assume the coaching staff does have information no one else does.
Realistic Future Options: Here, at least, it appears Michigan has enough candidates who list Michigan strongly to pick up a strong class. PA CB Cullen Christian is Scout's #3 corner and should be due for a major move up on Rivals when they rerank; he has all but said he will commit to Michigan at some point in the future whenever anyone has asked him for months.
So that's in all probability two. Would they take a third? I would; these days your nickel corner is probably more important than whichever linebacker comes off the field in a passing situation. They have options: Cass Tech mighty dwarf Dior Mathis and Rashad Knight have publicly proclaimed Michigan leads, and supposed Miami lock Tony Grimes came back from his Michigan visit saying things along the lines of—but not quite—"Michigan leads." FL CB Travis Williams, who tried to commit on a visit of his own but was put off, may also be an option.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. Michigan will probably pull in three good corners.
Needs: No one graduates here, so that's good. Not so good: only having four scholarship bodies covering two starting spots. Michigan should be looking to take at least two.
Commitments: FL S Marvin Robinson made what everyone had been expecting forever official by committing a few months ago. Six-pack coming at you, ladies:
Though Robinson didn't turn out to be the five-star lock everyone said he was a couple years back, he's a highly-rated four-star just outside of the Rivals 100.
Realistic Future Options: The big name is Glenville S Latwan Anderson, who was the best uncommitted player at Michigan's camp. He has Michigan second on an ordered list of five schools; supposedly M and WVU—the #1—are distant from the chasing pack of three southern schools. I still get the vibe that Anderson is headed elsewhere, as MGoBlog Recruiting Heuristic #4 is "if a player leaves a visit to your school saying someone else leads, you are in trouble." But maybe he's waiting around to confirm the competency, or lack thereof, of Bill Stewart before committing to a program that no longer has the primary reason anyone outside of West Virginia would be a fan of the program.
Two other players have Michigan in a small leading group: OH S Kurtis Drummond says Michigan and State lead, and SC S Detrick Bonner was the subject of an odd article recently in which he claimed a Michigan offer and said Michigan was his favorite despite no one ever hearing of him. There are a number of other guys from Maryland, the West Coast, and Ohio who Michigan would go for.
Level of PANIC: 1/5. Robinson's an excellent start; Anderson would be a great finish. That's slightly unlikely, though, but they've got enough guys on the board to pick up a solid second option.
Needs: They need one with the departure of Zoltan.
Realistic Future Options: It will probably be one of three players Michigan has identified already. WI P Will Hagerup already has an offer and appears to be the #1 choice. He's got offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Wisconsin, and many others—he's probably the best punter in the country this year.
If it's not Hagerup, it will probably be FL P Brandon Tarpley or MI P Mike Sadler.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. It really sounds like Sadler's just waiting for an offer to drop, so Michigan will pick up either the top punter or third-best (-ish) in the country. He won't be Zoltan but he should be decent.
Let me first state something for the record before offering up an e-pinion here. Yes, seven years of program building at West Virginia and yet more elsewhere far outweigh the opinions of recruiting gurus. I don't want to get into one of those dumb arguments where someone says something mildly critical, someone else replies with something defensive that slightly escalates the stakes, and twenty post later it's turned into a catfight with both sides annihilating strawmen like "recruiting rankings are 100% infallible" and "this recruiting class dooms Rich Rodriguez." Recruiting is one important aspect of a program; it's far from the only one.
You've probably figured out where this is going during the disclaimer, but here goes anyway: I'm not thrilled over here. It looks like the secondary recruiting will be about on par with a typical Michigan class, with two high profile stars, a couple middling four-stars behind them, and then a couple three-star-sorts with promise on the back end. Linebacker and defensive line are another matter, with three eh (Paskorz, Kinard) to eh-plus (Wilkins) recruits in the bag and what looks like zero four-stars Michigan has a strong shot except maybe Sharrif Floyd, and that's tentative. (I am excluding Corey Nelson and Corey Lemonier here.)
There is a lot of time left and all that, but the this gaussian distribution is centered on Moderately Disappointing. Thrilling is three standard deviations away.
I've said this before and here I go again: none of this is surprising after a 3-9 season; teams have been turning in disappointing recruiting years the year after they crater for a while now and that effect gets even more pronounced as recruiting continues to slide forward in the calendar year; it's good that Michigan has hold of a coach who has turned classes far more star-bereft than this one projects to be into national title contenders; I still think this is going to be a drag on Michigan's ability to be a national contender, albeit a small one.
The week-to-week minutiae of recruiting can sometimes obscure the larger picture.From time to time this here blog likes to provide a 1,000 foot view so people can have context going forward. Details below are designed to be sparse.
Michigan is about halfway to a full recruiting class, and will probably sign somewhere between 22 and 25. The details:
- Eleven players see their eligibility expire.
- Michigan entered the year with three unused slots.
- Transfers from Wermers, Threet, and Clemons minus the transfer-type action of Kelvin Grady brings Michigan up to 16 slots.
- There are two players on the team—David Cone and Bryan Wright—highly unlikely to get a fifth year.
- Dann O'Neill's departure is not yet official but is highly likely.
So without further attrition Michigan has about 19 slots—depending on the statuses of Sheridan, Morales, and the younger Grady—to provide, but there will be further attrition. There always is.
Needs: Almost as severe as they were last year. Michigan has two realistic scholarship options and would like at least two this year with possibly a third guy who will "get a shot" before getting moved to somewhere else.
Commitments: MI QB Devin Gardner (right), Michigan's top target and a guy who's around the Scout top 50 and Lemming top 10, has hopped aboard.
Realistic Future Options: There's not much green left on the recruiting board here: just SC QB Cornelius Jones, LA QB Munchie Legaux, and FL QB Stephen Morris. Morris doesn't have an offer, and Legaux has gone from declaring Michigan a provisional leader to only mentioning M intermittently—that smilin' green guy is probably outdated. So you've got Jones, which I guess would be okay.
Level of PANIC: 1/5. Gardner was clearly the #1 priority of the coaching staff and is in the boat; the lack of attractive second options is a minor concern.
Needs: They took three last year but lose three this offseason and had two transfers. In 2010 they'll have a junior Mike Shaw and four underclassmen (Smith, Toussaint, Jones, and Cox). That's is pretty light for a team that would like to run the ball lots, especially since Jones might be pirated away by the receiving corps and Toussaint remains a question-mark to qualify.
Realistic Future Options: Tate Forcier is still exhorting Michigan fans to keep hope for the pendulum that is CA RB Brennan Clay alive—he committed to Oklahoma over the weekend—but even if he's still in play he's declared Oklahoma a strong leader and will be difficult to pry away.
That leaves MI RB Austin White as Michigan's top remaining target, surprisingly. White has two brothers at State but the vibe on him has been strongly Michigan for the last month or two. While White's not the universal blue-chip Clay is he does have an LSU offer and a couple of four-star rankings.
There are also a dozen other kids with offers out there, with the top names to watch FL RB Cassius McDowell, a teammate of Michigan's Deerfield Beach duo on both the football team and the Florida state championship 4x100m, and CA RB Dietrich Riley, a hotly-pursued athlete who could play on either side of the ball.
Level of PANIC: 2/5. If Rodriguez gets a pass anywhere for recruiting random guys it's running backs, but Michigan's persistent inability to land a blue-chip guy despite Rodriguez's pedigree is slightly annoying. White's sort of close to that level, though, and if they bring him in that's a solid class.
Needs: Whatever they were they've been met.
Commitments: Michigan picked up early-early commits from FL WR Ricardo Miller and MI WR Jeremy Jackson, then followed that up with Ohioans Jerald Robinson and DJ Williamson, and the entire state of North Dakota.
Miller is a four-star to everyone but the other guys are in the generic three-star range, with Robinson the closest to four-star status. Jackson did claim offers from Texas and Florida, FWIW, and Williamson just won the state championship in the 100 meter dash.
Realistic Future Options: Unsurprisingly, there aren't many. IL WR Kyle Prater showed at the BBQ and a recent combine event that Gardner also attended; the two have hit it off and Prater's had some recent positive mentions of M. He's also declared a top three of USC, Oklahoma, and Illinois, though, so keep your hopes in check.
Other than that the only guy reporting an offer who seems interested is PA WR Andrew Carswell, who may or may not be able to commit if he so desires.
Level of PANIC: 2/5. I'd rather Michigan had picked up some higher-rated kids with better offers. IIRC, neither Robinson or Williamson had any other offers period, let alone something comparable to the Michigan offer, and neither is getting the sort of guru accolades that might offset that. Williamson is something of a mystery man, though: Rivals just got his film.
Needs: I have no idea, really. Is Teric Jones a slot receiver? What about Tony Drake? Is Kelvin Grady a realistic option? Will Jeremy Gallon qualify? Does Je'Ron Stokes end up playing inside? If the answers are all "yes," then the need here is minimal. If they're all "no," the need here is considerable.
Commitments: LA WR Drew Dileo committed to Michigan over an array of schools that are really good at school a few weeks ago.
Realistic Future Options: Again, it's not a surprise that there aren't a whole lot of options on the board here. FL WR OJ Ross has an offer and has been very impressive this spring at a variety of combines and his high school's spring game; he's about the only guy on the radar here.
Level of PANIC: 3/5. Dileo seems like one of those guys you wait on. Just my e-pinion.
Needs: Rodriguez never used tight ends at West Virginia unless it was Owen Schmitt lining up somewhere funny, but has apparently cottoned onto the idea at Michigan once he talked with good friend Bob Stoops and got a view of Kevin Koger's talents, so they're recruiting a few guys.
Realistic Future Options: Cincinnati commitment Alex Smith took a visit for the BBQ and now features in articles where he talks about a variety of trips he'll take. That commit is soft, then. He's the only guy on the board.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. If they find a guy they like here, fine. If they don't, fine.
Needs: Suddenly a little more needy with the departures of Kurt Wermers and (again, very probably) Dann O'Neill. Michigan is now recruiting to a class of four redshirt freshmen backed by a class of three true freshmen and should be taking another three or four players.
Commitments: OH interior lineman Christian Pace committed about a week ago.
Realistic Future Options: There is, of course, MN OL Seantrel Henderson, the nation's top recruit and a guy Michigan is in a tentative top two for along with Minnesota. He's not going to decide until February, though, so any lead here is tenuous. Much more likely to hew to his recent proclamations of a Michigan lead is FL OL Torrian Wilson, who's still got Michigan on top and would like to decide within a month.
Besides those two Michigan is in on a couple of Ohioans, Skyler Schofner and Andrew Donnall, plus some other guys. They'll probably have to find another half-dozen guys to offer to get up to four.
Level of PANIC: 1/5. Though the recruiting board has dwindled a bit, offensive line is a spot at which you get a lot of late-developing talents and the recruiting ratings aren't that accurate anyway. Pace is a good pickup to start.
Yeah, Michigan has expended a lot of scholarship slots on guys you'd like to see them wait on as Plan B type recruits to be reeled in after you are told to talk to the hand by big-time guys. By the end of the year only Gardner, Miller, and maybe one other committed player (Pace or Robinson, probably) are likely to pick up four stars, which is well below average.
The counter-argument to this basically goes "Pat White and Steve Slaton," and I hear you, but even Rodriguez's first full class at Michigan—which was loaded with four-star recruits—puts the lie to the idea it's not preferable to lock down guys who many people think will be good players instead of just you. At the halfway point it's looking like this will be class that ranks lower than normal.
That's not too alarming. Teams that have ugly years just about always experience a significant dropoff the year after, and Michigan is going through its own version. This is more likely to be a result of 3-9 than anything else, and 3-9 isn't an event that will repeat, knock on wood.
We're about to hit actual football season, which will severely curtail recruting coverage for 3-4 months. Monday Recruitin' will still exist and commitments will get the de-facto googlestalking, but recruiting content gets short shrift when Events are Transpiring. Before we go semi-dark, a snapshot of where Michigan's efforts stand to date. Check out the Recruiting Board for a more in-depth, more outdated version.
Commitments: Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. Both are highly rated dual-threat quarterbacks and both are needed. Newsome, rumored to be shaky, has recently reaffirmed his Michigan verbal.
Prospects: Californian Tate Forcier continues to show great interest in Michigan, attending the one-day senior camp earlier this summer and scheduling two in-season visits this fall. Florida's Eugene Smith continues to list Michigan in his top five when he has a top five to list.
Situation: Unless Newsome decommits (still a slight possibility) or Tate Forcier camouflages himself as a linebacker or something, Michigan should be done here, and with an A+ pair of players. No one can complain.
Commitments: Cass Tech RB Teric Jones is a three-star from Detroit; Fitzgerald Toussaint is a shifty, fast top 250 guy from Youngstown.
Prospects: Pahokee's Vincent Smith is all but committed; he's the tiniest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, and that's saying something. The only other player Michigan seems heavily involved with is high-rated Oklahoma scatback David Oku; most have him favoring Tennessee and Florida State.
Situation: They have to be done here after the pending Smith commit. I'm not too concerned about the low-ish rankings of Jones and Smith, as Rodriguez's system prioritizes different things than the recruiting sites do. More on this later.
Prospects: Despite complaints about a never-ending flood of 5'6" guys, Michigan appears to be done at the position. There are no midget receivers left on the offer board.
Situation: Gallon was temporarily a member of the Rivals 100 until his size knocked him out; he remains highly rated by them. He's the top star and quarterback for the preseason #1 team in Florida. He's a great pickup and may have been Michigan's first choice in the slot.
Commitments: Top-100 Minnesotan Bryce McNeal committed earlier in the summer.
Prospects: It appears Michigan would like one more outside receiver. The highest-rated guy they have a shot at is Californian Shaquelle Evans, a five-star guy who was reputed to favor UCLA earlier in the year but will give Michigan an official visit. PA WR Todd Thomas has previously claimed Michigan amongst his favorites or even his outright leader, but despite some guru approval Michigan does not seem to be reciprocating the interest. Instater Dion Sims wants to play basketball but is a MAC-level recruit in that sport; in football he's a loping downfield tight end. Michigan or Michigan State for him, probably.
Situation: Ironic that one of Rodriguez's top-rated recruits to date is the outside wide receiver whose days at Michigan were supposedly over.
Commitments: Rivals 250 OT Michael Schoefield, and that's it.
Prospects: Despite a couple of recent disappointments, there are a few good prospects on the board
- Chris Freeman, the gargantuan Trotwood-Madison tackle with one game to his credit.
- Cleveland Glenville tackle Marcus Hall, though the whole "Glenville" thing means he gets the red frowny face until he commits and maybe a little while after.
- Rivals 250 OT Brennan Williams, who has Michigan in a top six of elite academic schools.
- Californian Michael Philipp, about whom little is known.
Add it up and Michigan probably pulls one of the four above, most likely Williams (the recruiting sites are in disagreement about how interested Williams is, FWIW). They might add another three-star sort.
Situation: I was seriously concerned about numbers here, especially with the instate backup plan types (Mattias, Chapman, Fantuzzi, etc) lighting out to Indiana or the MAC or wherever, until I actually looked at the Depth Chart by Class. Michigan has no seniors on the offensive line and with Schofield will have 16 kids on scholarship this fall. How many more do you need? Maybe one or two. More on this later.
Commitments: Five-star DT Will Campbell committed way back at the 2007 summer camp; Louisiana DE/DT Dequinta Jones committed in late July.
Prospects: No one looks particularly likely to end up at Michigan, but a number of defensive end prospects continue to list them: Craig Roh, Anthony LaLota, Keenan Graham, Jason Ankrah, Chris Bonds, Will Hill. Roh is the highest-profile player who seems to have sincere interest.
Situation: Michigan should be done at defensive tackle; Jones weighed in at over 300 pounds at LSU's camp and has definitively established himself as an interior linemen. With two guys graduating and Slocum crapping out, Michigan needs two solid prospects. Check.
Defensive end remains the most troubling spot on the team. Tim Jamison graduates this year and Brandon Graham could bust out to the point where he's NFL bound, which would leave just four DEs on the roster, one of whom is positional vagabond and likely noncontributor Andre Criswell. Michigan needs quality and numbers here; unfortunately it's a terrible year in the midwest for DEs.
Commitments: Fringe four-star Jordan Barnes picked Michigan over Alabama, and it looks like both of Michigan's current safety commits are more likely to end up at outside linebacker.
Prospects: Like Vincent Smith above, Pahokee linebacker Brandin Hawthorne is all but committed; he's another outside linebacker type. Five-star Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins swung by Michigan for an unofficial; nobody knows where he'd like to go but anyone would make room for him. DeDe Lattimore is a three-star guy from Georgia who listed Michigan favorably, but it now sounds like he's probably going to stay in the south.
Situation: With two to four commits at a spot Michigan pulled in four guys at last year, they have to be about done. They'll make room for Jenkins; everyone else can go pound sand.
Commitments: Top 50 Ohioan Justin Turner is either a big, big corner or an excellent free safety prospect; camp commit Dewayne Peace is likely to end up on the defensive side of the ball.
Prospects: Michigan is probable leader for three-star Florida corner Mywan Jackson, the suspected leader for four-star Mississippi safety Dennis Thames and the tenuous leader for five-star Arkansas corner Darius Winston. Also hovering out there is Cass Tech quarterback Thomas Gordon, who's moving to safety this fall in an effort to land a Michigan offer; he's expected to get one and is further expected to commit as soon as Rich Rodriguez says "We'd like to offer yo-"
Situation: With three guys (Harrison, Trent, Stewart) headed out, 3-4 coming in is desirable. Michigan has plenty of targets it considers top-notch and should pick up 2-3. Not concerned here.
Commitments: None yet.
Prospects: Kickers Anthony Fera and Brendan Gibbons have been told one or both will receive an offer in the near future.
Situation: They obviously lack confidence in Bryan Wright and are searching for a backup plan -- or, more realistically, a plan, period. Fera and Gibbons are two of the top guys in the country this year/
FAKE QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD
Aiiiigh, three stars aaaaiiiiigh.
Well, yeah, lot of guys filling up the class who don't exactly have glamorous rankings or offers. I'm not too put out, though, and think there are two major reasons for the undercurrent of unease in the Michigan internet:
- Last year's recruiting class was a bounteous cornucopia of four-star-plus guys, with a whopping seventeen. This is above historical norms. 2007 had seven, one a JUCO. 2006 and 2005 had eleven.
- Ohio State's monster 2009 class, which is going to be a strong contender for #1 overall.
It looks like Michigan's recruiting is going backwards after a strong start and Ohio State is going to lord it over us. There are all those stories about how Ohio State is winning most of it's recruiting battles with Michigan that ignore the fact that Ohio State has always won most of its recruiting battles with Michigan because the vast bulk of them take place in Ohio. Dantonio got the drop on Michigan and it's that time every five years when Michigan State gets to a crappy bowl game with a new coach and picks up a couple instate recruits and the Tide Is Turning(tm). Steven Threet turfed a bubble screen. We're all going to die.
Meanwhile, Michigan is pretty much on track with what they always do. They've got eight four-star-plus recruits so far with about a third of the class to go, and there's reason to believe there might be some upward mobility in some of the disregarded -- especially if their last names are "Jones":
- Mike Jones missed half his junior year with injury.
- Teric Jones was also injured and was stuck behind another D-I recruit.
- ESPN loves Isaiah Bell, who's top-100 to them.
- According to an LSU contact, DeQuinta Jones did very well at LSU's camp and did so at around 300 pounds, which should remove the tweener tag he'd been saddled with.
IMO, there's probably going to be a net +1 on the four-star guys currently committed.
Secondly: don't care that Vincent Smith or Teric Jones or Jeremy Gallon gets only three stars (Gallon's three stars to non-Rivals outlets) because they're getting rated as tiny running backs or tiny receivers who couldn't swing it in every offense across the land. Michigan doesn't run every offense, it runs a very particular sort of offense that greatly appreciates the presence of little men made of the same material superballs are.
These are all the reasons I'm not that concerned.
The reason I am, a little bit: I would like a "big, thick joker" at linebacker, maybe two, to combat the nouveau-exotic offenses at Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. That's another question, though.
One offensive line commit aiiiiighh?
Theory: hello ex-tight ends. Michigan does seem critically short on the offensive line, but 1) there are no seniors this year, 2) they took a boatload (six) last year, and 3) there are six tight ends on the roster who may or may not like the idea of never getting any playing time and may or may not be well suited for the offensive line in Rodriguez's movement-friendly system. If someone like Steve Watson gets up to 270 or 280 he's an option; Brandon Moore is 6'6" and could fill out significantly once he's in Barwis' clutches.
It's obvious Michigan wants at another commit or two but they have been tardy to offer a number of guys, choosing to focus on only the four-star types in the area. Three-star camp types have been fleeing to MAC schools or Indiana at a rate that suggests Michigan isn't even asking them to wait so they can evaluate their seniors years film of them. They'll happily take a Schofield or a Zach Martin or an Andrew Carter, but aren't too concerned about getting run-of-the-mill guys in.
I'd expect one more in the class, hopefully Freeman or Hall (not likely) or Williams; if not it would be a snake oil job or some Omameh type who picks up a late offer after a growth spurt. Michigan will carry somewhere between 17 and 19 offensive linemen into 2009; I'm not that concerned.
Defensive end aaaaiiiigh!
The situation here is getting more and more problematic as defensive ends head elsewhere. At this point the only thing that makes sense is that Michigan intends to move recruits in the incoming class to defensive end. Strong candidates: Kevin Koger, JB Fitzgerald, and Marcus Witherspoon. I lean towards the bigger linebackers, as Michigan has five freshmen at the position (Brandon Herron redshirted) and is clearly targeting smaller safety-type linebackers as they go forward (Hill is a smallish, wiry guy -- though he played homewrecking defensive end in high school -- and all the guys they've picked up last year are little guys.)
This is concerning to some small extent. The linebacker commits: safety, safety, safety-sized WLB, 6'0 hypothetical MLB. (Jones, Bell, Hawthorne, Barnes, BTW.) The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball makes the most sense if you believe college football is going to be even more spread-dominated in the future and teams will have to put out "linebackers" that are closer to safeties and defensive ends who can run with quarterbacks. Michigan's recruiting appears to be forward-looking.
However, a number of Michigan's opponents are certainly not forward-looking. Wisconsin seems in no mood to go futzing with their bludgeoning ground game. Michigan State is embarking on a similar program. And Ohio State's default offense is ground-and-pound, though they will adapt to available talent.
Still, this spot reminds me of corner a few years back: Michigan whiffed on a bunch of guys, most prominently Justin King, and when their national-championship contender came together in 2006 there was one major achilles heel at cornerback.